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SHAW, George Bernard.

Typed letter signed to the actor of Alfred Doolittle in Pygmalion.

6 March 1914 Stock Code: 134368

Shaw unhappy with his actors

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Typed letter signed by George Bernard Shaw to Edmund Gurney, the actor playing Alfred Doolittle in the upcoming English premier of Pygmalion. Shaw was very unhappy with Gurney's portrayal of the character, which he observed in rehearsal - he writes that he wrote the part specially for him, and he should not let it be played too broadly.

He also criticizes Herbert Tree (playing Henry Higgins) and Mrs Patrick Campbell (playing Eliza Doolittle), writing of the latter that "there is no use in my coming back to the rehearsals until Mrs Campbell is tired of moving the furniture and begins to think about her own part a little". This unimpressed estimation is of interest, as Shaw went on to have an unconsummated but still passionate love affair with Mrs Campbell, leaving a remarkable epistolary exchange, most of which went unpublished until 1952, two years after Shaw's death, and 12 years after her death. Despite this initial hostile reaction to her performance by Shaw, she continued to play the part in the New York tour in 1915 and in the revival in 1920.

The letter is accompanied by a programme for the premier English performance at His Majesty's Theatre, performed soon after this letter on 11 April (the play was first performed in Berlin in November 1913). Also present is a typed list (and a carbon copy) of the cast and characters in the 1920 revival, and two newspaper cuttings on Mrs Patrick Campbell, one an obituary from 1940 and another an article on her and Shaw from 1952.

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3 pages octavo, c. 650 words with 7 manuscript corrections by Shaw, tipped-on to a card strip and backing sheet. Housed in a custom green cloth chemise within an old green half morocco slipcase with green cloth sides, now a little sunned and rubbed.


Lightly soiled with old fold lines. In very good condition.


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